Councilor Dickerson continues push for investigation

Questions raised about severance package for resigning city employee
By Daniel Dunkle | Nov 03, 2012
Source: File Photo Audrey Lovering

Rockland — In an open email sent to local press Nov. 2, Rockland City Councilor Elizabeth Dickerson put pressure on Mayor Brian Harden to investigate why Rockland Community Development Director Audrey Lovering of Standish signed a special resignation agreement with the city Oct. 10, entitling her to four months' salary in return for her promise not to bring claims against the city.

"Nine days ago, I sent you a request for an investigation into how the city manager had handled the recent personnel matter," Dickerson wrote. "We were informed by City Attorney Kevin Beal that it would be proper for the council to conduct such an investigation.

"I have heard no news from you, but have heard from others in the community that you were on Joe Steinberger's radio show, and a resident called to ask you about this matter, and why nothing seemed to be happening," Dickerson continued. "You told this resident, Adele Faber, that the type of request that I had made was a different request. This statement of yours confused the community, and now I am being asked what, particularly, is so hard to understand about my request. We have also seen, this week, an editorial in The Courier-Gazette calling for transparency in government, and if the taxpayers of Rockland are to pay over $20,000 plus health insurance to settle with an employee, then the people of the city of Rockland have a right to understand how their city manager conducted this situation, and whether it was conducted properly, or whether there could have been other, less drastic, options sought.

"I have copied the local press corps, as you can see, and it is incumbent upon you to act in a timely manner to such a request when it is made, even if it is to simply acknowledge receipt of the request.

"If my request was not clear to you, as you have indicated from your statements on the radio program, then certainly I would be happy to discuss."

City Manager James Smith said Oct. 19, that he cannot talk about the issue because it is a personnel matter. He said the last day Lovering worked at city hall was Oct. 1.

Lovering agreed to resign effective Oct. 10. As part of the deal, the city agrees to pay her a lump sum of $21,667 to resolve a dispute, which is not elaborated on in the agreement document provided by the city. The city also agrees to pay Lovering's attorneys Kelly and Collins $2,000 in fees and expenses.

As part of the agreement Lovering agreed not to say anything bad about the city or city employees. For its part, the city agrees to state only her dates of employment, her salary, title and that she resigned should it be contacted for a reference from another employer.

The agreement was signed by Lovering Oct. 10 and Smith Oct. 11.

Lovering had taken over the position in the summer of 2011, replacing former Community Development Director Rodney Lynch.

Courier Publications News Editor Dan Dunkle can be reached at 594-4401 or by email at ddunkle@courierpublicationsllc.com.

Comments (13)
Posted by: Deborah Sealey | Nov 05, 2012 07:55

Thank you for continuing to pursue this, Lizzie. I certainly want to know why the city agreed to use my tax money to pay someone not to work.



Posted by: Paul Chartrand | Nov 04, 2012 10:32

This whole affair and its treatment afterwards has shown the worst of city Government. I think Dale Hayward is the only Council candidate offering a new approach representing the common citizen, which he also is. Tho I will not agree with him on everything, I look forward to his honesty and transparency in Council debates.



Posted by: George Holmes | Nov 04, 2012 07:35

Three cheers Councilor Dickerson... I'm just sorry you didn;t run against Brian!! I have been impressed by your straight forward approach to problems such as the handling of the notorious " Brass Compass Affair" when  Mayor Harden chose to vote against the issue due to opinions of a  "Secret List" of people he claimed had objected to the issue..... however they did not attend the meeting.This new blemish is another example of cowardace in facing sensitive issues and lack of governmental transparency generates more problems than dealing straight forwardly with any problem we face as a community. 

 



Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Nov 04, 2012 06:16

Am sorry the Ms Lovering has to be the focus of this. We will find out the details before this is over with and hopefully will not lose another Ciry Manager.

Dale Hayward would definitely bring a different point of view to the council table. Whether or not it would bring a change of focus from Main Street and onto Every Street am not sure. Mayor Harden has served our city well, yet it is time for change.



Posted by: Kathryn Fogg | Nov 04, 2012 01:24

The only reason that I can imagine that the City would pay such a large sum to an employee who had been there such a short time is that she had grounds to sue because of a hostile work environment.  That would indicate that someone else was involved to make the work place intolerable for her to continue.  These payments are made to keep an employee speaking out after leaving.  Is the City Manager and the Human Resource Manager the same person?  What policies are in place for an independent review of an employee's complaints?



Posted by: Harley Roger Colwell | Nov 03, 2012 23:16

Thanks, Councilor Dickerson! This needs to be made public, and explained. If I have to explain every last repair and modification to my home, and then scrabble with the tax-assessors office over a few hundred bucks on my tax bill, then the city should show the same level of consideration before forking over $20K to appease someone's delicate sensibilities over a possible law-suit of dubious merit. 



Posted by: Ronald E Dyer | Nov 03, 2012 23:13

Brian Harden may indeed need to go, but in order to avoid more of the same,  I think the obvious choice is Dale Hayward.



Posted by: Terri Casey | Nov 03, 2012 21:49

Harden needs to go.

-C Robinson



Posted by: Les E Murray | Nov 03, 2012 18:12

This is the reason the City of Rockland  needs to elect Frank Isganitis. He is a s honest as the day is long !!



Posted by: Lorrie Callaway | Nov 03, 2012 17:17

I certainly hope people really speak their minds at the polls on Tuesday as far as Mr. Harden is concerned!

 



Posted by: russell g york | Nov 03, 2012 17:02

go getem councilor dickerson its time to get rid of the boy club or our so called representative starting with the city manager



Posted by: Linda Falkenmeyer | Nov 03, 2012 15:38

Ditto!!!!

 



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Nov 03, 2012 13:08

Cover up????? Of course, Harden isn't gonna repsond kindly.  He is very sneaky and loves to hide what is really going on in the city government from those who will "rock the boat".  Go get 'em, Councilor Dickerson!!!!  You not only have my backing but I am sure many others as well.

"A personal matter"? states James Smith?  Are they not paying this "hush" money with money collected from tax payers?  If so, then this matter needs to be made PUBLIC!!!

 

GO GET 'EM, COUNCILOR DICKERSON!!!!!!!



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